Structure - Inselberg Research Initiative
What are inselbergs?

The term “inselberg” (from German Insel = island and Berg = mountain) has been invented by the German geologist Wilhelm Bornhardt in 1900. Inselbergs are old landscape elements (with an age of millions of years) that occur on crystalline shields of all continents. They are mainly granitic or gneissic rock outcrops that rise more or less abrupt above their surroundings. Frequently they are dome-shaped and possess steep slopes consisting of bare rock.

Pedra da Boca, Brazil
view from rock outcrop near Pedra da Boca, Brazil
clouds surrounding inselbergs, Pedra da Boca, Brazil
Why studying inselbergs?
Microdracoides squamosus, Afrotrilepis pilosa, Mamfe, Cameroon
Microdracoides squamosus, Afrotrilepis pilosa, Mamfe, Cameroon

Despite being characterized by extreme environmental conditions (e.g. high temperatures, lack of water), inselbergs harbour a surprising richness of plant communities. Typically their vegetation is clearly demarcated from that of the surroundings. The large expanses of open rocky slopes are covered by cryptogamic crusts consisting of cyanobacteria and lichens. Other habitat types and plant communities are e.g. monocotyledonous mats, shallow depressions, rock pools and ephemeral flush vegetation. Inselbergs in the tropics (e.g. in Brazil and Madagascar) are characterized by high numbers of plant species and local endemics. They form centers of diversity for highly specialized life forms such as carnivorous and desiccation-tolerant plants. Whereas our floristic knowledge about inselbergs in parts of Africa (e.g. Côte d’Ivoire), South America (e.g. southeastern Brazil) and Australia is relatively good, there are still many regions and countries (e.g. Angola, India) which are rich in inselbergs but from where almost no data are available

Other types of rock outcrops
rock plateaus near Sindou, Burkina Faso

Sandstone outcrops

In certain parts of the tropics massive table mountains consisting of old sedimentary sandstones occur. Most spectacular are the “tepuis” which form huge isolated mountains on the Guyana shield. Characterized by very steep vertical sides they may tower over 1500m above the surrounding landscape. They comprise a unique flora which is adapted to extremely low amounts of nutrients. Similar in appearance are the table mountains of the West African Fouta Djallon highland.

canga, near Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Ferricretes/Cangas

Little information is available about plant communities associated with iron-rich outcrops, such as African, Australian and Indian ferricretes and cangas in Brazil. They are formed by processes of weathering/lateritization, but have different physico-chemical characteristics, because they originated from different lithologies. The vegetation of ironstone outcrops, besides sharing physiological, morphological and reproductive adaptations typical lato sensu to rock outcrops, also exhibits adaptations to living on a substrate rich in heavy metals, and possibly contains metallophytes or at least metal-tolerant species. These plant communities are associated with large mineral reserves, and in many areas the intensity of opencast mining is steeply increasing, which is a huge threat to these ecosystems. Since these outcrops are disappearing, the chance of improving our knowledge of plant tolerance to metals and desiccation becomes scarce.

Karst formations

Plant communities on exposed, bare limestone rocks occur in both temperate (e.g. on the Balkan Peninsula) and tropical regions. Spectacular examples from the tropics are the cone and tower karsts fmationsrom Cuba (known as “mogotes”) and Southeast Asia (e.g. in Malaysia). They frequently support an extraordinarily flora which is rich in endemics.

Vellozia resinosa, Campos rupestres, Brazil

Brazilian “campos rupestres"

The Brazilian “campos rupestres” sensu lato include montane, grassy-shrubby, fire-prone vegetation mosaics with rocky outcrops of quartzite, sandstone or ironstone (i.e., banded iron formation such as itabirites and cuirasses known as canga) along with sandy, stony and waterlogged grasslands. It occurs in eastern and central Brazil but a few disjunct areas are also found in the country’s interior, as well as in Bolivia. Campo rupestre is rich in plant species (5000 – nearly 15 % of Brazil’s flora occupying just 0.8 % of the land area) and endemics (up to 80 % in some taxa). Patches of transitional vegetation such as cerrado, gallery forests, and relictual hilltop forests also occur within the campo rupestre landscape. Campo rupestre sensu stricto can be defined as grassland mosaic and associated vegetation on the rocky outcrops. Major current threats to campo rupestre are opencast mining, annual anthropogenic burning to support cattle breeding, wood extraction, invasive species, overharvesting of ornamental species and uncontrolled urbanization.

Habitat types and plant communities on inselbergs
Sugar Loaf Mt., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Do you know the most famous and spectacular inselberg of the world?

It is Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. Everybody knows it and he shares its typical biological elements with thousands of other inselbergs around the globe.

Introduction

Inselbergs consist of large expanses of rocky slopes which on the first look seem to be bare. However, they comprise an astonishing diversity of life. Globally inselbergs are characterized by a typical set of habitat types and plant communities. The extent of their presence on individual inselbergs varies between tropical and temperate regions. In the following a brief description of selected inselberg specific habitat types and plant communities is given.

Rock pools

Solutional processes on mostly flat rocky surfaces have caused the development of depressions of various sizes and depths. Rock pools can be filled with water for several days up to many weeks during the rainy season. They may contain highly specialized aquatic plants. Rock pool specialists are adapted to cope with the unpredictability of prolonged droughts. Among rock pool specialists there are members of various angiosperm families such as Aponogetonaceae (Aponogeton), Cyperaceae (Cyperus), Haloragaceae (Myriophyllum), Linderniaceae (Lindernia), Lythraceae (Rotala) and Scrophulariaceae (Dopatrium). Moreover, the fern-like genus Isoetes (Isoetaceae) contains a number of species that exclusively occur in rock pools. These only seasonally available aquatic habitats show a large degree of spatial and temporal dynamics (i.e. species turnover) making it difficult to predict their inventory over longer periods. In tropical Africa so-called grinding holes are widespread on inselbergs which originated in the past due to human activities (i.e. grinding of cereals). Grinding holes often have an oval shape with a length of 20-30cm. Nowadays they form man-made habitats that are colonized by aquatic plants, amphibians and insect larvae.

Rock pool with Cyperus submicrolepis, Côte d'Ivoire

Rock pool with Cyperus submicrolepis, Côte d'Ivoire

Grinding holes, Côte d'Ivoire

Grinding holes, Côte d'Ivoire

Ephemeral flush vegetation (EFV)

On slightly inclined rocky slopes an EFV community is present during the rainy season. This community develops over very shallow substrates where seepage water is available for several weeks or months. Typically the substrate is not only shallow but nutrient poor. The floristic richness of EFV can be very high (in parts of tropical Africa and Madagascar). Particularly typical are families such as Eriocaulaceae, Xyridaceae and the carnivorous Droseraceae and Lentibulariaceae. Most of their species are short-lived annuals which form a seed bank in the dry season. In addition, geophytes can be richly represented. Most of all EFV communities on Malagasy inselbergs are very rich in geophytic orchids. On the peak of the rainy season numerous species of e.g. Disa, Cynorkis and Habenaria offer a rich display of colourful flowers. Frequerntly overlooked are members of the fern-like genera Isoetes (Isoetaceae) and Ophioglossum (Ophioglossaceae). Members of the Lentibulariaceae (Genlisea spp., Utricularia spp.) possess highly sophisticated subterranean traps for attracting, catching and digesting prey. Of particular interest is the fact, that certain species of Genlisea (e.g. G. margaretae) and Utricularia (e.g. U. gibba) are known to have the smallest genomes within angiosperms, i.e. even smaller than the genome of Arabidopsis thaliana.

Ephemeral flush vegetation, Madagascar

Ephemeral flush vegetation, Madagascar

Utricularia spec. and Xyris spec., ephemeral flush vegetation, Madagascar

Utricularia spec. and Xyris spec., ephemeral flush vegetation, Madagascar

Inselberg landscape with Sugar Loaf Mt. in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Inselberg landscape with Sugar Loaf Mt. in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Greyish and brownish colour of inselbergs, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Cryptogamic crusts

Looking at inselbergs from a distance they usually have a greyish or brownish colour. This colouration is due to cryptogams which form a nearly continuous biofilm on all exposed rocks. They form an epilithic and partly also endolithic cryptogamic crust that consists of cyanobacteria, lichens and fungi. These organisms are extremely tolerant to heat, high rates of irradiation and survive complete desiccation.

Monocotyledonous mats

On many tropical inselbergs mat-forming monocots occur. The mats formed by them are literally glued to the underlying rock and can be lifted (with the use of force) like a carpet. Often mats are circular in outline and reach a diameter of a few meters. Many prominent mat-formers are desiccation-tolerant and possess a shrub or tree-let like habit. Particularly important are members of Cyperaceae (Trilepideae: Afrotrilepis, Coleochloa, Microdracoides, Trilepis) and Velloziaceae (Vellozia, Xerophyta). Remarkably they show a Gondwanan type of distribution with southeastern Brazil, east Africa and Madagascar being centers of their diversity. Their stems mainly consist of adventituous roots that possess a velamen radicum (a tissue consisting of dead rhizodermis cells). Its function is the rapid absportion of water during rainfall. Both in South America and Africa the stems of desiccation-tolerant Cyperaceae and Velloziaceae offer growth sites for highly specialized epiphytic orchids. Only recently it could be shown that certain Poaceae are desiccation-tolerant mat-formers on inselbergs too. In different parts of India the genus Tripogon forms mats on rock outcrops and research on them is currently underway. One of the most important mat-formers on Malagasy inselbergs is Styppeiochloa hitchcockii. It had been overlooked up to now that this species is desiccation-tolerant too. Likewise desiccation-tolerant and mat or cushion forming (but not glued to the underlying rock) are different species of Borya (Boryaceae) on Australian inselbergs. They too have stems mainly consisting of adventitious roots with a velamen radicum. On South American inselbergs numerous bromeliads (e.g. species of Alcantarea, Encholirium, Pitcairnia, Tillandsia, Vriesea) are very prominent mat-formers. They are not desiccation-tolerant but possess succulent leaves (e.g. Encholirium) or store water externally in tanks (e.g. Alcantarea). Frequently, the bromeliads occur in multi-species mats in which they grow together with desiccation-tolerant species and cacti (e.g. Coleocephalocereus spp.). Certain members of Vriesea exclusively colonize steep vertical rocky slopes and are not to be found on only gently inclined slopes. Despite not belonging to the angiosperms it is worth mentioning that the fern-ally Selaginella (Selaginellaceae) is present with desiccation-tolerant mat-formers on inselbergs in temperate (e.g. southeastern USA) and tropical regions (both in the neotropics and paleotropics). Well known examples from Brazil are S. convoluta and S. sellowii.

Mat formed by Afrotrilepis pilosa, Côte d'Ivoire

Mat formed by Afrotrilepis pilosa, Côte d'Ivoire

Mat formed by Coleochloa setifera, Madagascar

Mat formed by Coleochloa setifera, Madagascar

Mats formed by Vellozia plicata, Espirito Santo, Brazil

Mats formed by Vellozia plicata, Espirito Santo, Brazil

Conservation
Mining blocks in Espirito Santo state, Brazil

Mining blocks in Espirito Santo state, Brazil

Mining in Espirito Santo state, Brazil

Mining in Espirito Santo state, Brazil

Conservation

Up to 20 years ago inselbergs belonged to the least disturbed ecosystems. Today many inselbergs are threatened by negative human activities. Among the major disturbances are mining, tourism, weed invasion and fire. In certain regions, for example in India near Bangalore and in Espirito Santo state in Brazil, inselbergs have completely disappeared from the landscape due to excessive mining. Our goal is to develop strategies which could result in the conservation of at least part of these iconic ecosystems.

Coleochloa setifera burned, IB ca. 20 km north of Ambalavao, Madagascar

Coleochloa setifera burned, IB ca. 20 km north of Ambalavao, Madagascar

Burned population of Alcantarea spp., Minas Gerais, Brazil

Burned population of Alcantarea spp., Minas Gerais, Brazil

Vision and mission

Wilhelm Barthlott and Stefan Porembski (both at the University of Bonn) have started botanical work on inselbergs in 1990 in West Africa (Côte d’Ivoire) which was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Surprisingly little was known about the floristics and ecology of Ivorian inselbergs and during the following decade profound insights into their major plant communities, life-forms (in particular desiccation-tolerance) and various other botanical aspects were gained. In addition, PhD-students (Rüdiger Seine, Uwe Becker, Andreas Gröger) were part of our group which provided detailed data from East Africa (Zimbabwe) and South America (Venezuela).

Stefan Porembski moved to Rostock in 1998 and since then inselberg research conducted by him continued in West Africa. Moreover, studies about the flora and vegetation of inselbergs in other parts of Gondwana were started: a “Gondwanan Gang” of inselberg research was created. Current research from our team at University of Rostock focuses on Madagascar (in cooperation with Missouri Botanical Garden) and Brazil (in cooperation with Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro). At the moment, a Brazilian student, Luiza de Paula, is developing her PhD project at University of Rostock, conducting studies on inselbergs in southeastern Brazil, which deal with patterns of species diversity on these rock outcrops.

Furthermore, using the desiccation-tolerant Velloziaceae as an example, Juliane Rexroth works in Madagascar with species of Xerophyta concerning aspects of population differentiation applying molecular techniques. Already during our first studies in West Africa it became clear that inselbergs possess links with other types of rock outcrops. For example, it became clear that certain plant species that are adapted to prolonged periods of drought are shared between inselbergs, ferricretes and sandstone outcrops. In order to understand the links between the various types of rock outcrops we intend to bring together rock outcrop researchers from different geographic regions and disciplines.

Rock outcrops of India
Introduction
large inselberg with many temples near Bangalore

large inselberg with many temples near Bangalore

cf temple large inselberg with many temples near Bangalore

cf temple large inselberg with many temples near Bangalore

The Indian subcontinent is part of the Gondwana supercontinent and is nowadays attached to the northern supercontinent Laurasia. Geologically, India is very diverse including various types of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Throughout India different types of rock outcrops such as inselbergs and lateritic plateaus are widespread. Attention for rock outcrops in this country dates back thousands of years and has deep religious and mythological roots. Testimonies to this are numerous monuments and temples directly built on rock outcrops which today are still worshiped by immense crowds of visitors. Among rock outcrops in India, inselbergs and lateritic plateaus form widespread landscape elements. Despite their occurrence in huge numbers in most parts of the country and their immense cultural and religious importance not much is known about their floristic inventory. Although local floras often note the presence of rare species on rock outcrops, comprehensive studies of these habitats are virtually non existent. In contrast, their geomorphology and geology has been thoroughly studied in the context of the exploitation of minerals and mining activities. In addition, such studies have been important for the understanding of landforms. A famous example is the central Indian landscape for which the term Gondwana was invented (after a tribe inhabiting central India).

Inselbergs

Many parts of the peninsular India are composed of ancient crystalline basement rocks, predominantly of granite and gneiss. The geomorphological spectrum of granitic and gneissic inselbergs is impressive and includes large monoliths, shield-like outcrops and bolder strewn koppjes. Monolithic outcrops are typical for humid regions (e.g. Kerala), in contrast to koppjes which dominate vast stretches in the drier parts of India (e.g. in Andra Pradesh). Due to the widespread occurrence of granitic and gneissic outcrops India has one of the world’s largest quarrying industries and is one of the most important suppliers of rocks for constructions. For instance, the spectrum of different coloured granites is breathtaking and is expressed by names such as “Black Granite”, “Chilly Red” or “Magadi Pink”.

Vegetation of inselbergs

All types of Indian inselbergs are heavily disturbed by human activities that frequently date back very long ago. Today grazing and quarrying form the most severe threats and in many cases the original vegetation cover has been converted into wasteland. It is therefore difficult to draw an exact picture of the structure and composition of the inselberg vegetation which is aggravated by the lack of published data. As elsewhere open rocky faces are covered by a biofilm consisting of cyanobacteria, fungi and lichens. However, no data are available about their detailed composition apart from a study on cyanobacteria from temple rock surfaces which provides some ideas on the biofilm communities covering natural rock (Adhikary & Satapathy 1996). Based on own observations it becomes clear that rocks on inselbergs located in humid regions are mainly covered by cyanobacteria whereas lichens dominate in drier areas.

Selaginella spec. mat, shield inselberg near large inselberg with many temples, near Bangalore

Selaginella spec. mat, shield inselberg near Bangalore

Tripogon spec. mat, inselberg with many temples and some mats, near Bangalore

Tripogon spec. mat, inselberg with many temples and some mats, near Bangalore

Species of Euphorbia are mostly tree-like stem succulents. In particular in drier parts of India species such as E. antiquorum are commonly encountered. Ephemeral flush vegetation which is so richly developed on laterite plateaus in India is nowadays only rarely seen on inselbergs due to grazing and other disturbing factors. Generally rather small in surface area this plant community mostly consists of annuals with carnivorous plants (e.g. Drosera burmannii, D. indica and Utricularia spp.) and other elements typical for nutrient poor sites such as Eriocaulon spp. and Xyris spp.. Rock pools are usually small in number but they can reach considerable dimensions and may cover dozens of square meters. They are mostly heavily disturbed and harbour a species poor vegetation made up of widespread aquatics. Only at protected sites rare and locally endemic plants occur. An example is a recently described species of

Euphorbia spec., large inselberg with many temples, near Bangalore

Euphorbia spec., large inselberg with many temples, near Bangalore

Physiognomically the vegetation of Indian inselbergs closely resembles that of other tropical regions. There is, however, one big difference: The monocotyledonous mats made up of desiccation-tolerant vascular plants which are typical for African and South American inselbergs seem to play a lesser role here (for many parts of the country only sparse information exists). However, recent observations have shown that the grass genus Tripogon forms mats on inselbergs near Bengaluru. Other resurrection plants are present too. Widespread are ferns belonging to the genera Actiniopteris and Selaginella. These ferns mainly occur in small crevices and on rocky slopes in open locations where different species of Selaginella form mats. Succulents are well adapted to cope with severe drought. Most prominent are species of Euphorbia and certain Apocynaceae such as Caralluma (e.g. C. umbellata) and Sarcostema.

blocks of granite quarrying Savandurg near Bangalore

blocks of granite quarrying Savandurg near Bangalore

cyanobacteria, Riccia, Selaginella, Oropetium, shield inselberg, large inselberg with many temples, near Bangalore

cyanobacteria, Riccia, Selaginella, Oropetium, shield inselberg, large inselberg with many temples, near Bangalore

Isoetes (I. udupiensis) which is known from a few inselbergs near Udupi (Karnataka). Small fissures and shallow depressions offer growth sites for the Commelinaceae genera Cyanotis and Murdannia that occur with several species. Here the desiccation-tolerant grass Microchloa indica is likewise common. In shallow depressions also certain Lamiaceae (e.g. Anisochilus carnosus) can be seen. Crevices filled with deeper substrate can be colonized by trees such as the leaf deciduous Gyrocarpus americanus (Hernandiaceae) which is characterized by its silvery bark and the typical fruits. As is the case in other regions invasive species have become established on rock outcrops in India. Rock outcrops located in drier regions seem to be richer in invasive plants. Among the species registered are Catharanthus roseus (Apocynaceae from Madagascar), Leucas linifolia (Lamiaceae, from India) and Opuntia spp. (Cactaceae from the New World).

Drosera burmannii, EFV, shield inselberg near Savandurg, near Bangalore

Drosera burmannii, EFV, shield inselberg near Savandurg, near Bangalore

Eriocaulon eurypeplon, individual, disturbed ferricrete, Ratnagiri

Eriocaulon eurypeplon, individual, disturbed ferricrete, Ratnagiri

Rocky plateaus

Prominent flat topped hills of the Western Ghats have two types of natural rocky plateaus. Basalt plateaus are large expanses of igneous basalt that are exposed due to weathering processes. In some places basalt has weathered to metamorphic laterite under extremely seasonal paleoclimatic conditions which had hardened to form thick crust on the parent basalt. Such lateritic plateaus are known as ferricretes and occur on Western Ghats hill tops and on coastal plains of the Konkan-Malabar region. A few lateritic plateaus also occur in the drier parts of the Deccan plateau, which are proof of the past wet climate of the region. Laterite is in great demand as decorative stone for buildings. The aluminium mineral “bauxite” also occurs under the lateritic crust in some places. Hence lateritic plateaus are heavily quarried or mined throughout western India.

ferricrete mit Impatiens lawii, Eriocaulon, near Amboli

ferricrete mit Impatiens lawii, Eriocaulon, near Amboli

ferricrete mining near Nate, nuclear power plant

ferricrete mining near Nate, nuclear power plant

Utricularia caerulea, EFV, ferricrete, near Ratnagiri

Utricularia caerulea, EFV, ferricrete, near Ratnagiri

Vegetation of rocky plateaus

Basaltic as well as lateritic plateaus are covered by cryptogamic crusts mainly made up of cyanobacteria and lichens. Cushions of mosses grow in crevices and offer growing sites for lithophytic orchids like Bulbophyllum, Eria and Porpax. Seasonal rock pools of various sizes and depths occur. Hydrophytes of Lythraceae (Rotala), Aponogetonaceae (Aponogeton saterensis, A. natans, A. bruggenii), Scrophulariaceae (Dopatrium), Linderniaceae (Lindernia) and Marsileaceae (Marsilea) are commonly observed. Ephemeral flush vegetation is a dominant community on plateaus during the monsoons. A great diversity of Utricularia and Eriocaulon species are widespread alongwith Smithia, Impatiens, Exacum and Hedyotis. Particularly remarkable is the presence of Trithuria konkanensis which belongs to a family (Trithuriaceae) that is otherwise only known from Australia. Species of EFV are mostly insect pollinated and bloom in the late monsoons (September). This is a mass flowering event that attracts diversity of pollinators and increases chances of successful pollination. Desiccation-tolerant species of Tripogon and Cheilanthes are common on rocky plateaus, but there is as yet no documentation of mat-forming communities. These species also occur on cliffs in the region, and there appear to be close links between the outcrops, perhaps due to physical proximity. Most of the rocky plateaus have steep cliff edges

Rotala spec., rock pool

Rotala spec., rock pool

Geophytes are common in the deeper soil covered areas. Most common geophytes are Dipcadi (D. montana, D. concanensis), Chlorophytum, Crinum and acaulous Euphorbia. Grasses form a dominant community on the rocky plateaus immediately after the monsoons. Diversification in Glyphochloa, Ischaemum, Eulalia and Dimeria has led to the formation of several narrow endemics on the plateaus. The seasonal wetland like conditions on rocky plateaus during the monsoon are ideal for providing habitats for herpetofauna. Narrowly endemic species of amphibians (Bufo koynensis, Xanthophryne tigerianus) and reptiles (Hemidactylus, Cnemaspis) are seen on the rocky plateaus. The rock pools are teeming with aquatic microfauna and other groups such as water beetles, freshwater shrimps and larvae of dragonflies and damselflies.

Lateritic plateaus play a big role in hydrology of the area. The laterite stone works as sponge and stores water in subsurface cavities. This water slowly seeps through from edges of the lateritic cap as perennial springs which are very important for local communities. A few species from surrounding grassland areas (Blumea, Senecio, Celosia) are seen invading rocky plateau vegetation, especially in areas of high disturbance. Soil disturbance due to digging, cultivation, quarrying and tourism has grown to worrying proportions in most areas. A few of lateritic plateaus in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are protected. But most are outside the protected areas. There is a slowly increasing awareness in the region about the uniqueness of plateau biodiversity and citizen initiatives have started for conservation of some sites.

Utricularia purburascens, ferricrete, near Amboli

Utricularia purburascens, ferricrete

Vegetation of cliffs
cliffs near Satara

cliffs near Satara

Seen from a distance the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats show a typical step-like arrangement of vertical, blackish, basaltic cliffs which are separated from each other by narrow belts of vegetation. Apart from flat rocky plateaus, the Western Ghats are thus characterized by the occurrence of vast areas of steep rocky cliffs. While stretching for nearly 2000km in north-south direction possibly the Western Ghats include one of the largest cliff ecosystems globally.

Individual cliffs might have a height of more than 100m and might stretch horizontally for many kilometres. Despite the fact that no knowledge about their floristic composition is available it can already be stated that the extreme growth conditions here function as an ecological filter that allows only the survival of highly specialized species. Among them the mat-like islands of grasses are most remarkable. They are made up by different perennial species of Tripogon (e.g. T. lisboae) and show a drastic change in leaf colour between rainy and dry season. They are fully turgescent and green when water is available (for c. 5 months) and they dry out completely and their leaves turn yellowish-greyish during the dry season (c. 7 months).

Impatiens acaulis, cliff west of Satara

Impatiens acaulis, cliff near Satara

Utricularia striatula, cliff near Satara

Utricularia striatula, cliff near Satara

During the monsoons, there are several cascades, and seepage areas all along the cliff faces. These are ideal growth sites for several ephemerals including Utricularia striatula, Impatiens acaulis, Kluggia notoniana etc. Highly specialized cliff dwelling gecko (Hemidactylus aaronbaueri) has been recently discovered on the cliffs in Northern Western Ghats. Cliffs are nesting and roosting places for species of martins, thrushes and critically endangered vultures. During the 8 month long dry period, cliffs are devoid of any moisture and exposed to strong sunlight. A few perennials (Ficus spp. Hymenodictyon spp., Notonia grandiflora) are also seen in this extreme habitat. Their contribution to the overall regional biodiversity is not well understood as very few studies are conducted on the ecology of cliffs.

Inselbergs of Brazil
Team

Members

Prof. Dr. Stefan Porembski
Inselberg research has been carried out by Prof. Dr. Stefan Porembski since 1990. He has concentrated his studies on the vegetation of African, Malagasy and South American inselbergs. He has a particular interest in desiccation-tolerant and carnivorous plants.

M.Sc. Luiza F. A. de Paula
Luiza de Paula holds a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil and a Master's Degree in Plant Biology from the same University. She is currently a PhD student at University of Rostock, Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Stefan Porembski. She has experience with Botany and Ecology, with emphasis on floristics, functional and community ecology, working mainly with the flora of inselbergs (granitic and gneiss rock outcrops). Her PhD project deals with (1) patterns of species diversity on Brazilian inselbergs, with a focus on monocotyledonous mats, and (2) studies on the population genetics of Vellozia plicata, a widespread species on Brazilian inselbergs.

M.Sc. Juliane Rexroth
University of Rostock
Institute of Biosciences
Department of Botany and Botanical Garden

M.Sc. Julius Köhler
University of Rostock
Institute of Biosciences
Department of Botany and Botanical Garden

Partners

India:

Aparna Watwe (Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

Madagascar:

Marina Rabarimanarivo (Missouri Botanical Garden)

Australia:

Steve Hopper (University of Western Australia)

Brazil:
Fernando A.O. Silveira (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)
Joao Renato Stehmann (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)
Rafaela C. Forzza (Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro)
Clarisse Palma-Silva (Universidade Estadual Paulista)
Luana P. Mauad (Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro)

Belgium:

Bram Vanschoenwinkel (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Côte d'Ivoire:

Annick Koulibaly (Université Jean Lorougnon Guédé)